Puzzles and pizza: a mystery at the museum and dinner at Zia Lucia

You may have read my post on City Dash, a large-scale urban wide game that tickled my housemates and I so much we did it four times in as many months. It involves running around bits of the city solving cryptic clues and evading guards in high-vis, sort of like a slightly more grown-up version of 40-40 Homes. It’s tremendous fun, but if you’re conscious about running in public, or just prefer the clue-solving element, they’ve brought out a new game.

Raiders of the Lost Archive Museum

It’s called Raiders of the Lost Archive and takes place in the labyrinthine corridors of the V&A in South Ken. Nobody chases you (in fact, running is not advised because of all the priceless sculptures and shit), but you still get to feel like you’re in The Da Vinci Code. Wear comfortable shoes if you take up the challenge because you have to cover a lot of ground; I think James 1 notched up about 9,000 steps on his smartwatch in 90 minutes, which turned out to be handy as we off to the soft launch of a new pizza place for dinner. (Tickets to Raiders cost £20 or £15 in advance if you’re the organised type, and dates can be found here.)

Zia Lucia Highbury and Islington

Now, with a few notable exceptions, most pizza restaurants aren’t what I’d consider destination dining. For instance, Cafe La Divina near Angel does some of the best pizza in Islington, but I wouldn’t suggest anyone cross town for it. (Homeslice, on the other hand, is something special.) The new place, Zia Lucia, off Highbury Corner, has got a couple of things going for it that sets it apart even from the really good pizzerias: creative topping combos and a selection of four – four! – different base styles.

Zia Lucia Highbury and Islington
The Andrea Pirlo on vegetable charcoal base (£9.80).

Whatever the base – original, wholemeal, gluten-free or charcoal – the sourdough is light but chewy, the result of a 48-hour slow-fermentation process and an enormous wood-fired oven called Dante. This is pizza for the deep pan fan without the gastric payback a few hours later. The vegetable charcoal one even comes described as containing “digestive gas-absorbing capacities” on the menu – not exactly language to get the old salivary glands going – but, as a long-time sufferer of post-carb bloat, I can happily report that the rumours are true.

The pizza above, by the way, is reason enough for me to return. It’s an olfactory masterpiece, fragrant with gorgonzola and minced black truffle. Very thin slices of apple provide a crisp counterpoint to the rich flavours beneath and the chewy, slightly bitter taste of the charcoal base. (Side note: who knew that fruit on a pizza could be so awesome? I had a fig and truffle honey one awhile back too and it was the tits.)

Zia Lucia Highbury and Islington

There’s plenty going on for the vegetarians, including Chris’ courgette, pepper and aubergine-loaded Ortolana (£9.50), though authentic Italian ingredients like Parma ham, speck and ndjuja (spicy AF, by the way. You’ve been warned) appear generously for the meat-eaters. Vegans are catered for with a butternut cream, tomato and asparagus topping and there’s a gluten-free option for the coeliacs, literally covering pretty much all bases on the fussy eating front.

Zia Lucia Highbury and Islington
The Nduja (£8.90) and classic Centurione, with mozerella, tomato, parmaggio (£9.80).

I am lucky enough to live just ten minutes away from Zia Lucia on foot (and since the new Pokemon Go app his I am all about walking to things at the moment. Especially delicious things), but if you’re on the other side of town and fancy yourself some creative toppings on a bloat-free black base? It’s worth making the trip.

Zia Lucia, 157 Holloway Road, London, N7 8LX 

Zia Lucia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Author: Emily Gibson

Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.